Coaching vs Therapy: Which Support Works Best?

While both seek a better outcome of your family relationships and dynamics, Parent Coaching has several advantages


Parenting can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life, but it can also be one of the most challenging. Therapy can be helpful if your child is exhibiting excessive sadness, sudden anxious behaviors, or if there's been trauma.

But when a child is struggling with tantrums, hitting, yelling, refusing to follow directions or similar problematic behaviors, it can be difficult for parents to know where to turn for help.

While both parent coaching and family therapy aim to help families, parent coaching has several advantages that make it the favored choice for parents with strong-willed (and defiant) children.

Parent Coaching Therapy

Views parents as the experts on their own children and typically involves a one-on-one relationship between the coach and the parent.

Involves sessions with the entire family, as well as individual sessions with children without parents. Therapists often are not able to share details of child sessions for privacy.

Works with parents to discover their values and incorporate them into developmentally appropriate strategies that can eliminate a specific misbehavior within 4-6 weeks.

Helps families identify and address generations-long negative patterns of interaction and communication that may be contributing to the child's behavior. Parents work on their underlying issues before addressing misbehavior in the children.

Focuses on providing developmentally appropriate and evidence-based behavior management techniques to parents to solve specific misbehaviors in their child typically within 4-6 weeks. 

Takes a more comprehensive approach, working to identify and address underlying issues within the family system including providing diagnoses for family members. This may involve hiring new therapists for those individuals.

Typically involves a short-term, goal-oriented approach based on each family’s unique goals, typically 4-6 months. Sessions are scheduled by the client and around the client's busy schedule..

Typically involves a longer-term, process-oriented approach where the therapist recommends how often sessions will be and what day/time sessions will occur, typically a regularly scheduled time.

Focuses primarily on the relationship between the parent and child in a way that protects the deepening, positive relationship between parent and child.

Considers the broader context of the family and how each member's experiences and behaviors impact the whole.

Teaches life-long, practical strategies and techniques so parents intuitively know how to reinforce positive behavior, set clear boundaries, and appropriately hold children accountable for the child's best interest. 

Uses a variety of therapeutic techniques to address the emotional and psychological dynamics within the family.

May use assessments and evaluations to identify parenting problems and the best solutions for the individual children as well as they family as a whole.

Uses assessments and evaluations to gain a comprehensive understanding of the family dynamics and individual needs of each family member.

May be more cost-effective than family therapy as the typical relationship is less than 6 months and the techniques provided can be applied as the children grow.

May be more expensive than parent coaching as there is typically no pre-determined goal or time-frame for resolution. Some therapists may accept insurance to help pay for therapy services.

Overall, parent coaching and family therapy are two different approaches to addressing family problems and misbehaviors in children.

While parent coaching respects the parents as the true experts on their children and focuses on providing practical strategies and techniques for managing behavior, family therapy takes a more comprehensive approach, working to identify and address underlying issues within the family system.

Schedule a free consultation with Susan today so you can determine if coaching is the next right step for your family.